New York City, New York Genealogy

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United States Gotoarrow.png New York Gotoarrow.png New York City Research

This page introduces the big-city strategies and records that can help you learn more about your ancestors from the five boroughs (counties) of New York City. After studying this page, you will be prepared to use the pages for the five counties (Bronx, Kings, Manhattan, Queens, and Richmond), and the pages for the State of New York.

County Courthouses

At 31 Chamber Street on the 7th floor is the New York County Clerk's Office Old Records Division.

History

Parent County

New York City as it now exists was created from

Boundary Changes

In 1913 the large part of the Bronx split off from New York County (Manhattan) to form the Bronx.

The definitive work on the many New York City boundary changes is:

Harry Macy, Jr. “Before the Five-Borough City: The Old Cities, Towns and Villages That Came Together to Form ‘Greater New York,’" The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Newsletter, Winter 1998. It can be viewed online in the member area of the New York Family History.

It can also be ordered at any U.S. county library through Inter-Library Loan.

Resources

Archives

New York City Department of Records and Information Services Municipal Archives 31 Chambers Street, Room 103 New York, NY 10007 Tel: +1-212-788-8580 Internet:http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/home.html

The Municipal Archives has city birth, death, and marriage records; the 1890 police census; city directories; voter registrations; almshouse records; and municipal government records. When requesting copies of records include a self-addressed stamped envelope. A growing collection of records is available on microfilm at the Family History Library.

Census

A jury census was taken in 1816, 1819, and 1821 for the purpose of determinging jury eligibility. This census covers Manhattan. Each ward has a census book and the census is arranged by address within the book. It includes the following information: name, age, occupation (head of household), number in household, race, and citizenship of the people in the household. This census is available at the New York City Municipal Archives. Their website includes an image of the 1819 Jury Census, Manhattan, Second Ward.

Cemeteries

a. NYC cemeteries are almost all on Long Island (Brooklyn or Queens). There are almost no burials in Manhattan.
b. In 1822 Manhattan outlawed burials below Canal Street, and in 1851 practical outlawed burials within Manhattan.
c. NYC cemeteries kept wonderful records and survive back to about 1850 (depending on the cemetery).
d. NYC cemeteries records, for the most part, have not been microfilmed.
e. When you write to a cemetery ask for a list of everyone buried in the plot, who bought the plot and when, and the address at which the people died.
f. NYC cemetery records often include vital clues to trace the origin of a family.

Books in the Family History Library collection about the cemeteries of New Yorkc City (Copies of these books can be ordered at U.S. county libraries through Inter-Library Loan.)

Ardolina, Rosemary Muscarella. Old Calvary Cemetery: New Yorkers Carved in Stone. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, c1996. FHL book: US/Can 974.7243 V3a. This is a good source for Catholic and Irish burials.

Ardolina, Rosemary Muscarella. Second Calvary Cemetery: New Yorkers Carved in Stone. Floral Park, N.Y. : Delia Publications, c2000. FHL book: US/Can 974.7243 V3a. This is a good source for Catholic and Irish burials.

Inskeep, Carolee. The Graveyard Shift: A Family Historian’s Guide to New York City Cemeteries. Orem, UT: Ancestry, 2000. FHL book: US/Can 974.71 V34i. This is the definitive work on New York City Cemeteries and how to find their records.

Pool, David de Sola. Portraits Etched in Stone: Early Jewish Settlers, 1682-1831. New York: Columbia University Press, 1952. FHL 974.71 F2p.

Sawyer, Ray C. Graveyard inscriptions of Trinity Cemetery, New York City, N.Y. Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1941, Microfilm of typescripts (2 vols.) made in 1931 in possession of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, New York City. FHL Film 17777 item 4.

Silinonte, Joseph Michael. Tombstones of the Irish born: Cemetery of the Holy Cross, Flatbush, Brooklyn, [1850-1980]. Bowie, Md. : Heritage Books, c1994. FHL 974.723/B1 V3.

Stokes, Isaac Newton Phelps. The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909, 6 Vols. New York: Arno Press, 1967, Reprint of books published in 1915-1928 by R. H. Dodd in New York. FHL 974.71 H2st. Includes a list of early New York City cemeteries in vol. 3, p. 927.

Church Records

Church or Synagogue Records
a. Use the Inventory of Church Archives in New York (see below) to locate churches near where your ancestor lived.
b. Use the city directories to find what churches of each denomination were in the city in any year.
c. Plot the address of the church on a map to find the churches nearest where your ancestor lived.
d. Church records many times give important details such as foreign places of birth, and family relationships.
e. Church records often list the address where the family was living.
f. Churches were specific for ethnic groups, even within the same denomination.

Books about New York City churches in the Family History Library (Copies of these books can be requested at U.S. county libraries through Inter-Library Loan.)

Dolan, Jay P. The Immigrant Church: New York's Irish and German Catholics, 1815-1865. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975 FHL 974.71 K2d. Includes maps showing locations of church and when they were built [Manhattan only].

Haberstroh, Richard. The German Churches of Metropolitan New York : A Research Guide. New York: New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, c2000. FHL 974.71 K2h. Includes history of the German churches in New York City and lists location, names of current pastors, location of records, and maps of church locations.

Mohrer, Fruma, and Marek Web. Guide to the Yivo Archives. New York: Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, c1998.

Wolfert, Marion. Index to Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Matthew, New York City Records [database online]. Orem, UT: Ancestry, Inc., 1999. http://www.ancestry.com/ Index includes over 8000 names taken from the marriage records dating from 1835 to 1854. In each case both bride and groom are listed, as well as their date of marriage and places of origin.

WPA, Guide to Vital Statistics in the City of New York, Borough of Manhattan: Churches. Historical Records Survey, 1942. FHL 974.71 K23ma. Includes index of churches and an address index.

Note: the WPA Inventories of Church Archives of New York City (listed below) are essential to finding most church records in the city. The books generally include a list of all churches of the denomination, a chronological list of churches by borough, an alphabetical list of clergymen [incomplete], an address list by borough, and an index. Although the books were compiled in the 1940s, they are still very helful.

WPA. Inventory of the Church Archives of New York City: Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Armenian Church in America. New York: Historical Records Survey, 1940. FHL 974.71 K23eo.

WPA. Inventory of the Church Archives of New York City: Lutheran. New York: Historical Records Survey, 1940. FHL 974.71 K23l.

WPA. Inventory of the Church Archives of New York City: The Methodist Church. New York: Historical Records Survey, 1939. FHL 974.71 K23m.

WPA. Inventory of the Church Archives of New York City: Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Diocese of New York, 2 Vols. New York: Historical Records Survey, 1940. FHL 974.71 K23en.

WPA. Inventory of the Church Archives of New York City: Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. New York: Historical Records Survey, 1940. FHL 974.71 K23p.

WPA. Inventory of the Church Archives of New York City: Reformed Church in America. New York: Historical Records Survey, 1939. FHL 974.71 K23r.

WPA. Inventory of the Church Archives of New York City: Roman Catholic Church, Archdiocese of New York, 2 Vols. New York: Historical Records Survey, 1941. FHL 974.71 K23rc. The library only has vol. 2, which excludes Brooklyn.

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

New York, New York City, Saint Peter's Lutheran Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Court Records

Directories

Gazetteers

History

Land and Property

Maps

Military

Civil War service men in New York City served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Over 90 companies were specifically formed in New York City. [1]

Naturalization and Citizenship

The Family History Library has also acquired this comprehensive index for the years 1792 through 1906 on microfilm: FHL Film 1419807 (1st of 294 films). The courts this index covers are:

  • City Court of Brooklyn, 1836-1894
  • Kings County Court, 1806-1906
  • New York City Marine Court, 1806-1849
  • New York County Common Pleas Court, 1792-1895
  • New York County Superior Court, 1828-1895
  • New York City and County Supreme Court, 1868-1906
  • Queens County Court, 1799-1906
  • Queens County Surrogate Court, 1888-1898
  • Richmond County Court, 1869-1906
  • U.S. Circuit Court Southern District, 1846-1876
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District, (Kings, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties), 1865-1906
  • U.S. District Court Southern Court Southern District, (New York, Bronx and also Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Richmond, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties), 1824-1906[2]

Newspapers

Brooklyn Eagle Online
The New York Times Article Archives

Probate Records

Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate’s Office, City of New York (digitized by Ancestry ($)):

1665-1707 1754-1760 1777-1783
1708-1728 1760-1766 1780-1782
1730-1744 1766-1771 1706-1790
1744-1758 1771-1776 .

A volunteer at USGenWeb offers to do free lookups in these records. Some of these indexes have also been digitized by New York State Historical Literature.

Also available online:

  • SAMPUBCO indexes (1665-1825). Courtesy: USGenWeb Archives.
  • Sawyer, Ray C. Index of Wills for New York County (New York City) from 1662-1850. New York: unknown, 1990. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Sawyer, Ray C. Index of Wills for New York County, New York from 1851 to 1875, Inclusive. unknown, 1950-1951. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Sawyer, Ray C. Abstract of Wills Probated in the Common Pleas Court: Also Known as Mayor's Court, 1819-1892: Supreme Court of Judicature, 1821-1829: Supreme Court of Judicature, 1847-1856: Supreme Court of Judicature, 1856-1870, All of New York County, New York City, N.Y. unknown, 1989. Digital version at Ancestry ($).

Taxation

  • 1699–1734 Tax assesment rolls New York Public Library; Family History Library's Film 484033. These rolls are a great finding aid to locate someone that was a city resident and finding the ward they belonged to; includes renters and owners. There is a break in the years from 1710 to 1720. The rolls from 1721 to 1734 include Queens, Richmond, and Westchester as well as New York City. [3]

Vital Records

New York City Municipal Achives

The Italian Genealogical Society, with the assistance of the NYC Municipal Archives, has been placing indexes to NYC records online, free of charge to the public. See the following:

Birth Records

The Family History Library has microfilms of some New York City births to 1909, deaths to 1919, and indexes to both to 1965. These microfilms can be ordered (for a small charge) and viewed at a family history center near you. The New York Public Library has the indexes to the present, but it does not search them in response to mail or telephone inquiries. Birth records to 1909 and death records to 1948 for the five boroughs of New York City are at the New York City Municipal Archives.

A digital version of the Family History Library's guide to New York City birth records is available online.

Microfilms at the Family History Library include:

Birth Records
All Boroughs (All of New York City)
Birth index books

1881–1965 (a D means Delayed, and a S means Special. An entry with one of these codes means that the certificates must be ordered from the NYC Municipal Archives.)

Family History Library films 1322457–86 (only for Manhattan and Brooklyn from
1881–1897)
Bronx (Bronx County)
Birth records 1898–1909 30 Family History Library films beginning with film 2022836
Wakefield births 1890–1895 Family History Library film 1398783
Westchester births
1881–1895
Family History Library film 1398783
Brooklyn (Kings County)
Birth card index 1866–1897 34 Family History Library films beginning with film 1324701
Birth returns 1866–1868,
1870–1906
104 Family History Library films beginning with film 1380499
Birth register 1869 Family History Library film 1315322 item 2


Births 1847–1851, 1880–1895 (years vary) for the towns of Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, New Lots, and New Utrecht are found in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under NEW YORK, KINGS, [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS.

Manhattan (New York County)
Birth records card index
1830–1865
19 Family History Library films beginning with film 1378956
Birth returns card index
1866–1897
153 Family History Library films beginning with 1323501
Birth registers 1846–1848,
1851–1873
(missing Liber 3, 1854–1856, E–Z,
and Liber 4, 1856–1857 A–J)
Birth returns 1866–1897 393 Family History Library films beginning with film 1322001
Birth records 1898–1909 8 Family History Library films beginning with film 1953076
Queens (Queens County)
Birth records 1898–1909
21 Family History Library films beginning with film 1992977

Births 1847–1898 (years vary) for the towns of College Point, Far Rockaway, Flushing, Jamaica, Long Island City, Newtown, Richmond Hill, Rockaway, and Whitestone are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under NEW YORK, QUEENS, [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS

Staten Island (Richmond County)
Birth index 1600–1900s
Family History Library films 539053–71
Birth index 1847–1897 Family History Library films 1324935–37
Birth records 1898–1909 10 Family History Library films beginning with film 1984042


Births 1847–1853, 1881–1897 (years vary) for the towns of Castleton, Edgewater, Middletown, Northfield, Port Richmond, Southfield, Tottenville, and Westfield are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under NEW YORK, RICHMOND, [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS

Death Records

A digital version of the Family History Library's guide to New York City death records is available online.

A vaulable tool to search for death records in the five boroughs is One-Step Webpages by Steve Morse.It includes indexes for: Brooklyn, 1862-1890; Brooklyn and Manhatten, 1891-1897; All boroughs, 1898-1948.

All Boroughs
(All of New York City)
Death index books 1888–1965 Family History Library films 1324914–31 (only for Manhattan and Brooklyn from 1888–1897)
Bronx (Bronx County)
Death records 1898–1919
91 Family History Library films beginning with film
1322702
Wakefield deaths 1878–1881,
1890–1895
Family History Library film 1398783
Westchester births 1887–1895 Family History Library film 1398783
Brooklyn (Kings County)
Death ledger card index 1848–1866
Family History Library films 1378813–19
Death certificate index 1862–1898 78 Family History Library films beginning with film
1378830
Death records 1847–1853,
1857–1861
Family History Library films 1315321–22
Death register 1847–1853,
1857–1858
Family History Library films 447542
Death certificates 1862–1897 339 Family History Library films beginning with film
1323651
Coroner's reports 1897–1914 16 Family History Library films beginning with film
1435709
Death certificates 1898–1920 Family History Library films 1324001–342
Coroner's reports, death records
1898–1916
Family History Library films 1435700-08
  • Deaths 1847–1851, 1880–1895 (years vary) for the towns of Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, New Lots, and New Utrecht are found in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under NEW YORK, KINGS, [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS
Manhattan (New York County)
Death certificates card
index 1868–1890
4 Family History Library films beginning with film 1324809
Death registers 1795,
1801–1804, 1808,
1811–1865
Family History Library films 447544–68 (by first letter of
surname)
Death certificates
1866–1919
1,069 Family History Library films beginning with film 1323352
Cholera cases 1866 Family History Library films 1324501–502
Coroner inquests
1797–1820, 1862–1864,
1868–1918
9 Family History Library films beginning with film 514332
Coroner inquests
1823–1898
101 Family History Library films beginning with film 1318155
Coroner reports 1839 Family History Library film 1255743
Bodies-in-transit
1859–1894
3 Family History Library films beginning with film 1671686
Queens (Queens County)
Death certificates 1898–1919
Family History Library films 1323384–472

Deaths 1847–1898 (years vary) for the towns of College Point, Far Rockaway, Flushing, Jamaica, Long Island City, Newtown, Richmond Hill, Rockaway, and Whitestone are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under NEW YORK, QUEENS, [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS

Staten Island (Richmond County)
Death index 1600–1900s Family History Library films 539053–71
Death register card index 1847–1897 Family History Library films 1324932–34
Death certificates 1898–1920 Family History Library films 1322793–81

Deaths 1847–1853, 1881–1897 (years vary) for the towns of Castleton, Edgewater, Middletown, Northfield, Port Richmond, Southfield, Tottenville, and Westfield are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under NEW YORK, RICHMOND, [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS.

You can obtain New York City birth (1910 to the present) and death (1949
to the present) certificates for a fee from:

New York City Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Records
125 Worth Street, Room 133
New York, NY 10013-0046
Telephone: 212-788-4500
Internet: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/vr/vr.shtml

Mailing Address:
Division of Vital Records
City of New York, Department of Health
P.O. Box 3776
Church Street Station
New York, NY 10007

For birth records through 1909 and death records through 1948, write to:

New York City Department of Records
and Information Services

Municipal Archives
31 Chambers Street, Room 103
New York, NY 10007
Telephone: 212-788-8580 or 212-566-5292
Fax: 212-385-4253
Internet: http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/about/archives.shtml

New York City Birth and Death Records are available using a credit card. Write to the New York City Department of Health, 125 Worth Street, New York, NY 10013. A "Hotline" telephone number, 212-788-4505, is available for information and for ordering birth and death certificates using a credit card. You can order birth records from 1910 to the present or death records from 1949 to the present. Using a credit card the cost is $15.00. Five to seven business days are required for delivery. You can also order by sending a fax of the application to 212-962-6105. They can fax a copy of the application to your fax machine. The fee is also $15.00. Five to seven business days are required for delivery.

The records are not available for genealogical purposes and are subject to certain other restrictions.

All other local registrars sent copies of their records to the State Department of Health. Most New York deaths after 1962 are in the Social Security Death Index.

The Guide to New York City Public Records. [4]Includes chapters on city government, courts, libraries, and personal information. Shows how to obtain vital records, name change records, and naturalizations.

Marriage Records

A digital version of the Family History Library's guide to New York City marriages is available online.

A bride and groom index is available through One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse. The groom index includes: Manhatten, 1866-1907; Brooklyn, 1864-1907; All Boroughs, 1908-1937. The bride index includes: Manhatten, 1866-1937; Brooklyn, 1871-1918, 1928-1937; Queens, 1905-1937; Bronx, 1899-1937 and Richmond, 1898-1937.

Marriage Licenses

For marriage records for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Richmond through 1937, write:

New York City Department of Records
and Information Services

Municipal Archives
31 Chambers Street, Room 103
New York, NY 10007
Telephone: 212-788-8580 or 212-566-5292
Fax: 212-385-4253
Internet: http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/about/archives.shtml

Pre-1938 New York City marriages, some as early as 1830, are found at the Municipal Archives. The Family History Library has microfilmed marriages of:

All Boroughs All of New York City
Groom marriage index books 1888–1937 (to Health
Department marriages but
not City Clerk marriages)
12 Family History Library films beginning with film 1543903 (only for Manhattan from 1888–1893,
and only for Manhattan and Brooklyn from 1894–1897)
Bronx (Bronx County)
Bride marriage indexes 1898–1937 4 Family History Library films beginning with film
1983782
Health Dept. Groom index 1898–1937 Family History Library film 1976292–93
Health Dept. marriage certificates
1897–1938
Family History Library film 1939720
Brooklyn (Kings County)
Health Dept. marriage certificates
1866–1937
203 Family History Library films beginning with film 1543711
Manhattan
New York County
Marriage register 1823–1853
(Mariners' Church)
Family History Library film 017785 item 5
Mayor's marriage records and index
1830–1854
Family History Library film 017776
Marriage register and index
1829–1887
Family History Library films 1671673–85
Health Dept. marriage records and indexes 1866–1937 1447 Family History Library films beginning with
film 1522995
Marriage indexes 1898–1937 4 Family History Library films beginning with film
1983782
Queens (Queens County)
Health Dept. groom index 1881–1937, bride index 1905–1937, marriage certificates 1898–1937
56 Family History Library films beginning with film 1908328
Marriages 1847–1897 (years vary) for the towns of Far Rockaway, Flushing, Jamaica, and Newtown Listed in the Family History Library Catalog Locality Search under NEW YORK, QUEENS, [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS
Staten Island (Richmond County)
Marriage index and records
1600s–1900s
Family History Library films 539053–71
Marriages after 1937 In the borough offices of the city clerk
Other Records of Marriages and Deaths

For New York City's five boroughs and some other counties, many newspaper notices of births, marriages, and deaths have been published. See New York Newspapers for a partial list. In the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog, these notices are listed under:

NEW YORK, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - NEWSPAPERS

NEW YORK, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - OBITUARIES

Check also under the state and county levels.

Some church marriage records have been published or have been microfilmed for the five boroughs. An example from the Family History Library collection is:

New York City Methodist Marriages, 1785–1893 [5]contains a groom index and a bride index, each of which has about 41,000 names.

Divorce records

Divorce records may be obtained from the County Clerk in the County where the divorce decree was granted. For information on how to obtain a copy of a divorce record in New York City boroughs:

  • New York County, Manhattan call (646) 386-5955.
  • Kings County Brooklyn call (718) 643-5894.
  • Queens County call (718) 298-0601
  • Bronx call (718) 590-3638
  •  Staten Island call (718) 390-5389

(The Office of the County Clerk does not have a web site.)

Societies and Libraries

  • New York Public Library – Of note to genealogists are the following divisions within the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building:
  • Map Division
  • Microforms and Periodicals
  • Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy

Microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah are available at this Historical Society.

Web Sites

References

Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area, Edited by Estelle M. Guzik. Compiled and published by the Jewish Genealogical Society, 1989. ISBN 0962186309, 9780962186301


  1. Frederick Phisterer, New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. (Albany, N.Y.: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912). Internet Archive digital copy; At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Film 1486494-96; Fiche 6083559-64; Book 974.7 M2p.
  2. Family History Library Catalog, FamilySearch, accessed 6 December 2011, http://www.familysearch.org.
  3. Harry Macy Jr., “New York City Assessment Rolls 1699-1734”,The NYGB Newsletter 3(Fall 1996): 26. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.71 D25n v.7 Updated version at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society on the Society’s Website. This is listed under “Research Aid Articles”.
  4. Kronman, Barbara. The Guide to New York City Public Records, Fourth Edition. New York, New York: Public Interest Clearinghouse, 1992. (Family History Library book 974.71 A3k.)
  5. Fisher, William Scott, compiler. New York City Methodist Marriages, 1785–1893. Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1994. (Family History Library book 974.71 K2fn vols. 1–2.)
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